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Employment Law News - June 2016

An update on the latest employment law news from solicitor Natalie Ruane.

Employees' Internet Privacy

6th June 2016: European Court of Human Rights to decide employee's internet privacy challenge

The case of Barbulescu v Romania was referred to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) earlier this month. The case concerns the right to privacy under Article 8 of the ECHR and whether this was breached by a private sector employer who monitored an employee's work-related Yahoo Messenger account. 

The case was previously heard by a Chamber of the ECHR which found that the monitoring of internet usage and the use of Yahoo messages in the employee's disciplinary proceedings was a proportionate interference in his Article 8 rights. If the final decision goes against the employer, this could impact on employer’s use of general monitoring of computers and work related email accounts, which is common practice to ensure employees are using their computers for work related use only.  The final decision will appear in our employment e-bulletin when it is published.

Sports Direct, Zero Hours Contracts and the National Minimum Wage

7th June 2016: Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley gives evidence to BIS committee after investigation finds failure to pay the National Minimum Wage

This followed an investigation by the Guardian which found that warehouse workers for Sports Direct were receiving less than the National Minimum Wage.

In his evidence, Mr Ashley admitted that the compulsory and unpaid searches conducted on all workers leaving the warehouse at the end of a shift meant the company was breaking the law by paying workers less than the minimum wage. 

He also informed the committee that Sports Direct is under investigation by HMRC, which could impose financial sanctions. Mr Ashley acknowledged that the retailer was now "too big" for him to control, stating "One minute (I) had a tiny little inflatable and you're in control and the next minute you are on an oil tanker". 

Mr Ashley admitted that 80% of workers were on zero-hours contracts and agreed with MPs that more staff should be transferred to permanent contracts. 

There has been no indication from government that the use of zero hours contracts will be restricted or phased out: indeed on 8th June 2016, David Cameron confirmed during Prime Minister's Questions that zero-hours contracts would not be banned.  For further guidance on zero hour contracts for workers or general guidance on pay and conditions, please contact Natalie Ruane on 01228 552222 or email nr@burnetts.co.uk

About the author

Natalie Ruane profile photo

Natalie Ruane

Natalie is a Partner and leads the Employment Law & HR team and specialises in education.

Published: Friday 24th June 2016
Categorised: Employment, HR

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